Filed under: 1994 Oldsmobile Achieva (Lil' Red)

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Ever wonder why people just give cars away? I'm not talking about those charity auctions or anything like that. I'm talking about someone who says, "I've got this car sitting. It runs, but I'm not driving it anymore. If you want it, come and get it. It's yours." Do you ever wonder why? I never did, but I was on the receiving end of that offer a few years ago. I took the car, made a few fixes and drove it. I drove it until the alternator went out. Had that rebuilt, then I drove it until the engine mounts broke. And they broke so bad and seemingly suddenly that they also took out the heater core. So the car sat over the winter until I could get to it to fix the heater core and mounts. I was feeling good once the new heater core was installed and the new engine mounts were in. I drove it back and forth from work which is less than 10 miles from home. Then I decided to take it on a road trip. I have to regularly travel to Houston, TX from Lincoln, NE. One trip, I decided to take this car. After all, it gets much better gas mileage than any of my other cars. It performed nearly flawlessly on the highway. Over the course of nearly 2000 miles, it averaged a nice round 31.0 miles per gallon. Although, the mpg fell off slightly on my trek back home as I averaged an impressive 32.6 mpg to Houston. During the trek home, I also noted a significant shake had developed. It began around 55 mph and got increasingly worse as I turned to the right. My first inclination was that an inner CV joint was going bad and I should replace them both. After all, the car does have 146,xxx miles on it! Pulling the front suspension apart revealed that my hunch was correct. All the suspension parts are OEM, factory installed. In the process of the 1/2 shaft replacement, I noted that the inner lower control arm bushings needed to be replaced as well as the sway bar end links. No big deal, took me a couple days as I was avoiding the heat of the day and had only hand tools to use. After the replacement, I took it on a short test drive to see if the driving had improved. I noted a significant improvement in ride quality, but the "shake" was still there at about 55 mph and above.

The plan had always been to get an alignment once I replaced the bushings, so an appointment was made. A brief drive with the mechanic revealed the shake to him and they vowed to find it. Turns out both front struts are shot. They are shot to the point that the inner portion of the strut and the outer housing move at different rates, creating the shake that is felt when driving.

It doesn't surprise me at all that the struts are gone. It does have 146,xxx miles on it. But I just find it interesting that when you take one part off the car, all of a sudden two, three or four other parts are then instantly revealed as needing to be replaced. I know it is the way with older vehicles with high mileage. I'm just glad that the car was given to me instead of me purchasing it and still needing all this work!